Sunday, March 14, 2010

Obama vs. Netanyahu

I usually don't like it when my two countries' relations with each other get strained. Now, though, I'm just elated about the mini-crisis we're in following the East Jerusalem construction announcement that came out while Vice President Joe Biden was here. Biden publicly censured the Israeli government, and voiced his disapproval in private meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a 40-minute phone conversation with Netanyahu in which she reprimanded him. The PM has apologized, saying the timing was off and that he plans to make sure such announcements are never made without his say-so. He doesn't seem to understand that the timing is the minor issue here. The problem is the construction itself, which isn't just a slap in the Americans' and Palestinians' faces but also against Israel's interests. Even more worrying is the fact that even some Labor Party ministers don't understand what the big deal is.

So, why am I happy about this controversy? Netanyahu deserves a good whooping. The opposition is too fragmented to forcefully and effectively speak out against the current government's policies. The Labor Party, which claimed to join the coalition in order to be a moderating force, is being dragged rightward rather than dragging Netanyahu leftward. The electorate may not be crazy about Netanyahu, but according to polls, if the elections were held today the Likud would have an even larger delegation in the Knesset. Nothing much is really threatening Netanyahu into action. Perhaps some kind of ultimatum from Obama is the only way to convince Bibi to prove that he really does support the two state solution.

I'm against an imposed solution, but some prodding in the right direction can be helpful.

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